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Building Mobile Apps Native VS Hybrid

Hello, I am Justin Tindle a Senior Consultant at KiZAN Technologies and I will be providing a guest entry on “Building Mobile Apps Native VS Hybrid.”  This post builds on top of Mike Branstein’s “5 Ways to Get Started with Mobile Apps Today” post.  There is a lot of confusion around building mobile apps and what path to take for development. In this post, you will learn about building mobile app native vs hybrid, how you could build your next mobile app, and help make the right decisions for your business.

Native

Native mobile apps are built using the native tools for that platform. Each platform has its own language and own tools for building these mobile apps. Native apps will perform better than hybrid apps and will have full access to the functionality of a given device.

Technologies

The following table will list the platforms and the associated development tools and languages.

Platform IDE Language
iOS Xcode Objective-c and Swift
Android Eclipse, IntelliJ, Android Studio, etc. Java
Windows Phone Visual Studio C#

Pros

  • Unrestricted access to the platform
    • UI specific to each platform
  • Maximum performance – you are working directly on the metal
  • Only limits are the platform and your imagination

Cons

  • Most expensive, least flexible for cross-platform development
  • Need to learn language and tools for each platform
  • Shortage of developers
  • Low code reuse between platforms

Best For

  • Single-platform mobile app
  • App’s requirements exceed capabilities of hybrid framework
  • Performance optimized apps
  • Graphic intensive games / Unique Interfaces

Hybrid

Hybrid mobile apps are built using web technologies and skills most developers already have. A single hybrid app can be built that can be ran on multiple platforms with nearly 100% code reuse. Basically, you deploy an app in a native container and your web assets are loaded into a web view. At this point your hybrid application is running in an internal browser on that platform. There are many frameworks, platforms, and technologies that can assist you with building a hybrid app since you are utilizing your web development skills.

Technologies

At the core of this hybrid app revolution is a framework known as Adobe PhoneGap (aka Apache Cordova) that allows a developer to access native APIs via JavaScript using a mechanism known as a foreign function interface.

Technology IDE Language Platforms
Telerik Platform (No Mac required) Web browser, desktop client, Visual Studio, Sublime Text HTML, JavaScript, CSS iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Xamarin (Mac required) Xamarin Studio, Visual Studio Native App – C#Hybrid App – HTML, JavaScript, CSS iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and more

Pros

  • Familiar technologies for developers – HTML, JavaScript, and CSS.
    • Use your web IDE of choice
  • Cheaper to build – even cheaper across multiple platforms
  • Mostly common code base – high amount of code reuse across platforms
  • Many, many web based frameworks available to help build hybrid apps

Cons

  • Native apps have better performance than hybrid
    • Your application is running at a layer above native within the browser of that platform
    • Takes a lot of experience and knowledge to build a hybrid app that is near native performance
  • Cross browser issues still exist
  • Doesn’t always look or feel native

Best For

  • Developers with web development experience
  • Quick to market apps
  • Cross-platform apps
  • Line of Business apps
  • Simple apps

What Next?

When building your next mobile app you need to take into consideration what platforms you are building for and what you and your team’s skillsets are. You will want to leverage the skillsets that match the appropriate native or hybrid app technologies. Also, consider what type of app you are building, how quickly you need to get to market, and how much do you want to spend on development.  These requirements can affect whether you build a native or hybrid app.  Please feel free to comment on your experiences with building mobile apps native VS hybrid!

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3 comments for “Building Mobile Apps Native VS Hybrid

  1. Avatar
    January 30, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Thanks for the guest post, Justin!

  2. Avatar
    June 15, 2017 at 12:28 am

    Great Post !! Share worthy info.

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